Furthermore, labels can be a powerful message to send juveniles and young offenders in society. According to Henslin, “to label a teenager as delinquent can trigger a process that leads to greater involvement in deviance” (207). To put the term deviant on a young male offender allows society to pass a negative social judgment and ultimately closes doors of opportunity. Besemer et al. concluded in a recent study that labeling increases an individual’s association with delinquent individuals with individuals convicted of a crime between ages 19-26 (2). In addition, labeling influences the individual’s self-perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs (Besemer et al. 2). The study determined that labeling theory was more prevalent among young offenders who had a previous or currently incarcerated parent (Besemer et al. 11). This finding supports the notion that young male offenders are more likely to fall into a life or crime if they are socialized to believe that deviant behavior is the norm. Additionally, being a former prisoner holds a stigma that is applied by official and social position holders such as police officers, judged, and employers (Behravan 287). Being labeled as a deviant through conviction may serve as a self-fulfilling prophecy to encourage young offenders to associate themselves in society with people who have been similarly labeled.
Finally, gender plays an important role in the recidivism rate among young male offenders. As noted by Henslin, gender is a feature that surrounds us in society from birth and pushes us into different corners of life while nurturing some behaviors and discouraging others (77). One indicating factor that reinforces gender messages is one’s peer group. The influence of peer groups is relatively powerful and consists of a group of individuals, roughly the same age, which are linked by common interests and orientations (Henslin 80). Presumably the most notable difference between male and female offenders is the types of crimes committed and the rate at which crimes are committed. Asscher et al. conducted a study that found male juvenile offenders commit more sexual and felony offenses in comparison to female offenders (222). This may be contributed to the male dominance portrayed in mass media and video games within society; an increased support that men conform to violence and sexual behavior.
Consequently, many steps have been taken to address the concerning recidivism rate among the inmate population. Notably one of the most influential steps is the recent federal initiative that aims to reduce recidivism rates. Wells and Hernon discuss the involvement of the National Institute of Justice and their ongoing evaluation of two federal initiatives (72). The first initiative designed to reduce recidivism is the Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative and the second initiative is the Second Chance Act. The Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative was studied among high-risk juvenile boys and found through the initiative there were longer times before rearrests and fewer arrests after release (Wells and Hernon 72). In addition, the National Institute of Justice has awarded multiple grants to study the effectiveness of other programs in regards to reducing the rate of recidivism (Wells and Hernon 73). These studies are critical in producing the data needed to support shaping reentry policies for correctional institutions. The ultimate goal is to provide programs that produce cost-saving and effective measures in keeping offenders out of prison.
Additionally, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety is expanding their services provided to juveniles during incarceration and upon release. One notable services provided by the North Carolina Department of Public Safety is the Juvenile Mental Health and Positive Youth Development Programming Services. The Department of Public Safety stated that, “in the past two years, youth confined in youth development centers carried an average of three distinct mental health diagnoses, with 60 percent having co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders” (“Department Announces Additional Steps”). Consequently, youth are assigned to a mental health clinician upon admission. Additional services provided include: social work, health services, education services, and clinical services (“Department Announces Additional Steps”). The purpose of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety is to provide a comprehensive strategy of community based services while helping to reduce and prevent juvenile crime (“Department Announces Additional Steps”). The department services the state of North Carolina and had many divisions, such as law enforcement, National Guard, emergency services, adult corrections, and juvenile justice.
In conclusions, it is easy to see that recidivism is a prevailing problem among young male offenders in society. It becomes quite clear that the issue of recidivism is multi-dimensional and has many societal factors. Among many, the most prevailing sociological influences are deviance, social control, socialization, labels, and gender. Analyzing criminal offenders from a sociological perspective allows individuals to view criminals in the context of their community. In doing so, one can truly understand the reasoning behind criminal activity and why certain individuals may be more susceptible to cycles of crime.